Friday, November 25, 2005

GNU Make Debugger released

As part of the consulting work I've been doing for Electric Cloud I created a simple interactive debugger for GNU Make Makefiles. It's written using GNU Make's internal functions and supports breakpoints and interactive querying of variables.

I originally wrote about the debugger for CM Crossroads in this article, and then did a follow up webinar for Electric Cloud.

But now the debugger has been released under the General Public License on SourceForge. Anyone interestedin getting or modifying the debugger should visit the SourceForge GMD site.

In its current state the debugger is pretty simple. You can set breakpoints manually by inserting $(__BREAKPOINT) in a Makefile or in a rule, but what's really needed are breakpoints that can be set interactively.

It's possible to do this by maintaining a set of target names that have breakpoints enabled on them and then by modifying SHELL the debugger could watch for the execution of those rules. There are a number of usability challenges though: there's no way to query the set of rules that currently exist in a Makefile and hence no way to offer target name completion. That means that entering the target name could be really tricy; the best option is probably to allow wildcards so that only a partial name needs to be entered.

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